Where to Visit in Italy
Italy is divided into 20 regions which in turn are divided into small provinces. Many of our specialist operators focus on holidays to specific regions. The separate historical development of many of the cities has given each of the regions a strong sense of diversity. This individuality, which extends to the smallest village, creates the charm of Italian provincialism. Known as `Campanilismo’, it is literally an attachment to one’s local bell-tower.
Any exploration of the country is an invitation to compare and contrast the super-star regions with the `secret’, less discovered regions. Venice, Florence and Rome, the capitals of the Veneto, Tuscany and Lazio, still expect the lion’s share of tourism. Rome lent its civilisation to the world while Venice was once a great maritime power with an empire that extended to Byzantium. Other regions, such as Tuscany and Campania, have been `discovered’ since the days of the Grand Tour. Naples, the capital of Campania, leads to Pompeii and the gorgeous Amalfi Coast.
Many regions, notably Lazio, centred on Rome, are far-better known for the capital, than for the delightful area beyond. Rome is also associated with the Vatican, itself a separate state, and the home of the Roman Catholic Church.
The lesser-known regions are no less lovely. In the north, Trentino-Alto Adige is wonderful for skiing, hiking, wilderness country -and water-sports on the lakes. Piedmont, once home to the former capital of Italy, boasts prestigious wine-lands and princely cuisine. Turin, the capital, has undergone a style renaissance of late. Lombardy, embracing Milan, the style and business capital, also boasts chic Lake Como and a cluster of art cities. The Veneto is not just Venice but Palladian art cities, wine lakes and Adriatic beaches as well. Liguria, linked to Genoa, its fascinating seafaring capital, has a lovely coastline and a healthy cuisine.
Umbria, linked to St. Francis of Assisi, is noted for its hills and sense of mysticism. Le Marche and Puglia, often dubbed `the new Tuscany,’ are places to indulge in cultural and foodie trails off the beaten track. Emilia Romagna, based on Bologna, is riddled with foodie trails, but also delights in a cluster of art cities, including Ravenna, famous for its glittering mosaics.
Sardinia and Sicily are the yin and yang of islands. While Sardinia boasts superb beaches and an ancient indigenous culture, Sicily has always been a sultry melting-pot of cultures which it has slowly made its own. Campania is justly celebrated for its classical history, coastline and the islands of Capri and Ischia. Puglia (also known as Apulia in English) is the pointed heel of Italy’s boot, and boasts baroque Lecce as its loveliest city. Calabria, a sparsely developed mountainous region, has rugged trails and several inviting seaside resorts. All of Southern Italy prides itself on its authenticity, genuine cuisine and hospitality.